The Spanish celoso and the English for the same, jealousy, come from the same Greek root: zelos.
But how did this happen? They should so different!
The answer is that the Latin (and Greek) words with a -ch- sound and variations (like -sh-, the soft -j-, -z-, etc) usually turned into the hard, guttural, throat-cleaing -j- sound in Spanish. Think about sherry and jerez, for example, or quash and quejar, or soap and jabón.
Thus, the c-l-s of celoso maps to the j-l-s of jealous.
Curiously, the ancient Greek form — zelos — meant jealousy, but in the more positive sense of enthusiasm and friendly rivalry. In a word: zeal — which also comes from the same root!
The Spanish caja (“box”) comes from the Latin capsa for the same.
This gives us a surprising connection to some English words that, on the surface, sound very different than caja:
The Latin turned into the Spanish through an interesting pattern: the -sh- sound in Latin consistently turned into the -j- sound in Spanish (at first retaining the original pronunciation, but then under the influence of Arabic, grew to the throat-clearing sound). With caja, we have a slight variation of the pattern, where the -ps- sound turned into the -j- sound. Thus, the c-ps maps exactly to c-j.
The Latin sounds for “sh” — and similar variations, like “ch” and “ss” — became a “j” sound in Spanish.
Thus, the English sherry is near identical to the Spanish jerez!
These sh/j sounds were often spelt with a “x” in old Spanish; and sherry itself is named after the town it first came from, Xeres, which is near Cordova.
Jeringa, Spanish for Syringe, sounds like it has nothing in common with its English counter-part. But they are literally the same word.
The Latin sh- sound often evolved into the j- sound in Spanish — originally retaining the sh- sound but eventually, under Arabic’s influence, transforming to the throat-clearing sound we know and love.
This explains how both jeringa and syringe derive from the same root: the Latin siringa, itself from the Greek syringa. The sy- sound is a variation of the sh- sound and therefore the sy-r-n-g of syringe maps to the j-r-n-g of jeringa.
We recently discussed the relationship between dejar and relax, both from the same Latin root, laxare, from the Latin laxus. Other modern words come from these same roots, let’s see…
In Spanish, another interesting word from the same root is lejos, meaning, “far.” This underwent the same sh to j transition documented in the other post. That which is far away, after all, is what we can be relaxed about, what it’s easy to be loose about.
Some additional English words that come from this same root include: